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The decision to attend SIUE was an easy one for Brandon Rahn when he was a high school senior.

"It's a beautiful campus, there's incredible faculty and the vibrant student life offers more opportunities for me to get involved than at a larger school," Brandon said.

From the first day he stepped on campus, Brandon took advantage of those opportunities, improving himself and his university. During his four years at SIUE, he has helped revise curriculum for the University's honors programs. As a past president of Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow, he helped connect his on-campus peers with alumni for career networking. And, he performed hundreds of hours of community service as a member of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi.

But Brandon is most proud of his accomplishments during two terms as the Student Body President. Not only did he work with University administration to improve the student experience, he also lobbied the state legislature to restore $200 million in funding for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant, which provides need-based assistance to students across Illinois.

None of this would have been possible without the financial assistance that Brandon received through the Meridian Scholar Program, which covered tuition, fees and room-and-board during his four years at SIUE. The Meridian Scholars Program offers scholarships to 20 students each year with strong academic ability and a record of personal achievement, leadership and service.

Two-thirds of the student body receives financial aid. Donor support of scholarships like the Meridian Scholars Program helps keep SIUE's excellent education affordable.

Without the scholarship, Brandon said he would have needed to spend his time outside of class working and worrying about paying for school. The scholarship allowed him to give back to his fellow students and discover his true calling. After graduating with a bachelor's in economics and political science in May 2011, Brandon plans on building his record of achievement. He will attend law school to pursue a degree in international human and civil rights.

"There are some exceptional individuals that may not have come to SIUE without the Meridian Scholar Program," Brandon said. "It's an opportunity to get some of the best and brightest students with diverse backgrounds and interests to attend this University. We are all giving back to campus in our own ways. The scholarship allows us to concentrate our efforts toward work that benefits students. We're working to leave a great legacy on this campus."

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